After reaching a dramatic eleventh-hour agreement with Europcar in October 2010, Jean-René Bernaudeau is hoping to find a sponsor for his team with a little more time to spare this time around. The current agreement with the car rental company expires at the end of this season, and Bernaudeau has already begun talks to secure his team’s future.
Bernaudeau told RMC radio that Europcar is in pole position to continue its involvement with the team, but he also noted that he is aiming to increase its budget significantly.
“We’re in negotiations and the team is ambitious,” Bernaudeau said, according to rmc.fr. “With the arrival of Bryan Coquard, the team is expanding and so it costs more. Discussions are ongoing with several companies, including Europcar, who obviously has the priority.”
Europcar is currently a Pro Continental team, and Bernaudeau wants to increase his budget by some 25% in order to compete at the highest level.
“We owe an enormous amount to Europcar, who stepped in two years ago. We’re functioning with a budget 25-30% inferior to those of our competitors, even though we have all the personnel necessary to work well. But we need a budget to match the level of our team, and so we want to increase it by 20-25%.”
Bernaudeau refused to rule out the possibility that Europcar will continue as lead sponsor but with a significant co-sponsor brought on board to bolster the team’s budget. In particular, he highlighted the importance of keeping talented neo-professional Bryan Coquard at the squad.
“However it happens, we need to increase the budget so that we can continue to grow,” Bernaudeau said. “Particularly with Bryan Coquard, who has just arrived and who will obviously have a very different salary in 2014.”
Bernaudeau’s team developed from the Vendée U amateur squad in 2000, and was sponsored by Bonjour (2000-2002), Brioches La Boulangère (2003-2004) and Bouygues Telecom (2005-2010), before Europcar came on board. On that occasion, it took Thomas Voeckler’s late decision to renege on a verbal agreement with Cofidis to ensure that Europcar would step in as title sponsor.
Voeckler said that he is not worried that a similarly dramatic situation will develop this time around, although he acknowledged that the expiration of Europcar’s current deal has not gone unnoticed.
“Worried is a strong word but it would be disingenuous of me to say that we didn’t think about it,” Voeckler said. “Let’s just hope we don’t go through the same situation again.”